“I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy”
President Lyndon B. Johnson, March 15th, 1965
50 years ago, on March 15th, President Johnson addressed the nation amidst the turmoil and violence of the Civil Rights Movement. In his speech President Johnson outlined what would later be passed as the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Last week, Civic Nebraska supporters gathered at the Bemis Center in Omaha to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this historic act and to celebrate the legislative victories of Civic Nebraska’s Voting Rights Program. Annette and Paul Smith and Patty Zieg and Tim Higgins generously hosted the event.
Speaking to a crowd of almost 50 supporters of Civic Nebraska’s Voting Rights Program, Executive Director Adam Morfeld thanked them for their generous contributions and support. Donations collected at the event will go towards funding Civic Nebraska’s policy research and lobbying efforts to keep harmful legislation, like voter ID, from being passed and promoting legislative initiatives, like Election Day Registration, that increase accessibility and participation in elections. “So man organizations fight for progressive causes like increasing the minimum wage and funding for education, but those causes are made 5 times harder when those who we fight for every day are kept out of the democratic process and not represented in our civic institutions” Morfeld explained. “It really starts at the ballot box, when everyone has a voice, our government and elected officials serve everyone in our state”.
While the Voting Rights Act is 50 years old, major parts of it have been gutted by recent Supreme Court decisions. At this historic milestone in the Act’s history, it is time to recommit. President Johnson in his speech acknowledged the complexity of civil rights issues but when it comes to voting there is not argument to be made, unequivocally every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. As we look to the next 50 years, it is up to us to recommit to the sentiments of the Voting Rights Act and work to pass legislation restoring those protections and rights it enshrined in law.
We thank all those that sent in donations and especially thank those that joined us in celebrating the right of every American to vote. As President Johnson said, “There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to ensure that right” and we are grateful for those that provided Civic Nebraska with the support take up that burden and protect every Nebraskans right to vote.